Biomass Case Studies
Below you will find some case studies we have conducted in the Lochaber area:
Small scale Biomass all burn wood, but in different forms;
Log gasification boilers can take large quantities of logs and burn them very efficiently, but they require large thermal store (1000 litres or bigger) to act as a buffer between the boiler and the heating of the home. They are great for those who can source their own firewood which they can dry and handle manually, and have plenty of space for the equipment. During the summer it may need lighting once or twice a week for hot water, or combine with Solar panels for maximum efficiency.
Wood chip boilers use chipped logs, often of relatively damp wood, which is fed into a boiler through automated augers. Wood chips are relatively dirty with grit and small stones, so these machines a large and robust and more suited to commercial use. Wood chip delivers is normally by a truck which tips or blows the chips into a hopper so there is a certain amount of space required. If well looked after they can give low carbon heat from local woods and self supplied wood is possible for those with the equipment. The local HWEnergy installs these boilers.
Wood pellet boilers use small compressed wood pellets, which are very dry and come in 10 kg sacks or can be blown into a hopper by a delivery truck. many come with a small hopper (a few days worth) on top but additional hoppers can be added for longer term fuel capacity.Some models are designed to be used inside the home, others are external, for a garage or some care combined with a cooker, allowing heating and cooking to come from wood pellets.
Older forms of biomass are commonly found across Lochaber, mainly stoves and fires;
Log stoves, of the sort that you find inside the home and load manually, are also useful and some can be connected to the heating system but are less efficient than the above options. They can also produce a lot of particulate pollution if the fuel is wet or the controls aren’t used properly.
Open fires are very inefficient, with around 80% of the energy in the fuel going up the chimney. They may look nice on a winters night but they aren’t doing much for your heating and that open chimney will be causing a draught most of the year, Chimney sheep, umbrellas and balloons are all available to block the chimney when not in use and keep you home warmer.
Coal can be used in some stoves and open fires but there is no need to use such a polluting fuel in the UK any more. Using biomass from sustainably managed forestry, especially waste from timber products or locally self sourced logs, can be an environmentally friendly fuel.